Kitchen Tips

The Raw Diet: how to go raw and stay raw

Thinking about making the switch? Read this first.

If you’re like us, chances are you’ve already tried the full range of diets advertised and sold by celebrities and dieticians alike, with little success. From Atkins to Paleo to 80/20, we’ve tried them all.
Now the latest is a dietary trend towards eating 'raw'. But what does that actually mean and how do you do it? Well, that's exactly what raw food advocate Amanda Brocket has written about in her new cookbook, The Raw Food Kitchen Book.
Combining traditional raw recipes with new-age additions, Brocket has created a comprehensive how-to for going raw, and staying raw, that covers everything from ingredients, preparation and cooking, to lifestyle changes and health benefits.
So if you’re thinking about going raw, we’re here to help. We’ve delved into the diet itself and found out how to transition and how to do it well.

What does ‘raw’ mean?

The ‘raw’ diet is based on the principle that none of the food you consume should be cooked, baked or heated above 44-48° in order to keep the enzymes alive.
According to raw dieticians, cooking your food at a high temperature destroys most of the enzymes that occur naturally and help to aid your health.
The raw diet also advocates against processing, refining or ‘denaturing’ your food, leaving only fresh, natural ingredients.

The benefits

The raw diet is built on the foundation of health benefits it supposedly results in. Rather than weight loss, most of the ‘rawies’ began following the diet for physical and emotional benefits.
According to Amanda Brocket’s raw food manifesto, the diet can inspire a whole range of health changes, including:
~ Alkalisation. Some health professionals say that eating too many acidic foods can disrupt the natural alkaline state of our bodies, making it harder to digest food, therefore using more energy and interrupting the body’s natural process. The raw diet aims to eliminate acidic foods to help this process along.
~ Candida. One of the main reasons behind Amanda Brocket’s switch to raw was her battle with the fungal disease systemic Candida. In her book, Brocket claims the raw diet was key in helping her fight the effects of Candida.
~ Gut health. The raw diet also aims to help with gut health by eliminating inflammatory and ‘toxic’ foods from the diet, aiding the health of the intestinal lining.
~ Detoxing. The raw diet claims that the change in food processing and cooking will help to detox your body, flushing out toxins, and boosting your energy.

How to go raw

Making the switch from your regular diet to a raw diet can be a big step. To make the transition easier we’ve put together some tips to smooth out the bumps along the road.
1. Plan ahead
Unlike regular diets, most of the time you can’t just pop down to your supermarket to get a snack. The Raw diet requires planning and preparation. To make things easier, plan out your meals for the week, making a list of the ingredients, machines and additives that you will need. This will save you from lapsing on your diet.
2. Shop smart
To help cut out pesticides, waxes and sprays from your diet, try shopping at your local farmer’s market instead of the supermarket. This will ensure your fruits, veggies, nuts and sprouts are locally grown, chemical-free and, maybe even slightly, cheaper.
3. Prep, prep, prep
One of the downsides to the diet is that a lot of prep work is involved. To make things easier on yourself, do most of this as soon as you get home from the market. Soak your nuts, pickle your sauerkraut, dehydrate your food, mix your granola, and whip up your dressings. Then when you need to get a meal together, you’re not spending hours in the kitchen.
4. Start out slow
The raw food diet isn’t an easy one with pre-packaged meals or frozen dinners; it requires a lot of thought, planning and determination. Because of this, a lot of rawies decide to downsize their diet by only eating raw two or three days a week. If you’re finding the transition difficult, try only going raw on the weekends, and then move up to three, four, or five days. Brocket says that eating just 20 per cent raw - maybe even just a meal a day - will give you benefits.

The foods you need in your pantry

Like any other diet, there are certain foods you should stockpile in your pantry and certain foods you should definitely leave behind.
In her cookbook, Brocket compiles her ‘essential list’ of specialist ingredients. Here are a few of the items she recommends.
~ Chia seeds. Good for crackers, chia porridge, desserts, pie crusts, smoothies, dressings, soups and sauces.
~ Flaxseeds. Good for crackers, desserts and bread.
~ Psyllium. Good for desserts, breads, crackers and wraps.
~ Coconut kefir
~ Kombucha
~ Sauerkraut
~ Amaranth. Good for cereals, crackers, raw breads, and savoury dishes.
~ Buckwheat. Good for desserts, quiche bases, toppings and raw cereals.
~ Millet. Good for salads, desserts, cereals and crackers.
~ Quinoa. Good as a couscous substitute; add to salads, crackers, savoury dishes and raw breads.
~ Coconut oil
~ Flaxseed oil
~ Olive oil
~ Miso paste
~ Nutritional yeast
~ Tamari
~ Himalayan crystal salt
~ Kelp
~ Acai
~ Cacao
~ Goji berries
~ Spirulina
~ Coconut nectar
~ Maple syrup
~ Raw honey
~ Stevia
~ Apple cider vinegar